Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will still be held in 2020 - but it will be a very different version of the annual holiday tradition. In a statement posted on Macy's site, the department store informs parade fans that, "For more than 90 years, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® has kicked off the holiday season with its signature entertainment spectacle, making it one of the world’s most beloved events. Following our successful, safe and innovative production of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks®, it is our intention to similarly reimagine Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this November." Even though it's not mentioned by name, obviously the coronavirus pandemic is the reason for the change.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is held every Thanksgiving Day in midtown, NYC. The city's mayor, Bill de Blasio addressed the changes in parade format, during a press conference yesterday:
"I think some is going to be virtual, it might be some small in-person pieces, spread-out pieces. It's not going to look at all, of course, like what we are used to," he said. "But the important thing is the traditions will be kept in some way."
Typically, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade brings thousands of people into NYC's midtown area to cloister together in a tight gauntlet of human bodies, crammed behind street barricades. That's not to mention the elaborate parade float displays, which can see entire bands, dance teams, or other such troupes crowded together along parade lanes, in order to perform. All of that is obviously a recipe of disaster in a COVID-19 world; it will be very interesting to see how the parade organizers reconfigure the event to better meet the mandates of social distancing and general coronavirus prevention tactics.
NYC Midtown is a big playing field with many iconic locations that are well-suited to TV: isolated pockets of balloons and other types of float and/or performances could be the easiest change, logistically speaking. It could even be grouped into themes, with superheroes occupying one locale; live performances in another (bands, dancers) etc. The other route would be staging the parade in non-public locations (hangers on the docks, at airports, etc.), and having the event be broadcast only - with no live events to possibly (if only inadvertently) draw a big crowd.
Of course, the biggest logistical challenge will probably be getting the Macy's building itself (located in the forever-frantic 34th st and 7 avenue) into the parade, while keeping crowds controlled in one of the most crowded areas in the world. Good luck with that.